This is What ‘People-Powered’ Looks Like – MRMR Gets Loud

By Laura Monn Ginsburg

Minnesotans for Responsible Marijuana Regulation (MRMR | @mnisready) held its volunteer kick-off last week. Supporters interested in volunteering with MRMR’s campaign to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use in Minnesota gathered to learn more about the work, challenges ahead, and how a people-powered campaign is the best option for motivating action by lawmakers in St. Paul.

The evening saw a great mix of advocates who’ve worked on legalization for years, as well as many who are new to the cause. The evening started with attendees sharing personal stories of what led them to the issue and then moved into an overview of the campaign, discussion of the challenges and opportunities ahead, and practicing talking points. 

Hearing the unique and personal reasons people are passionate about working to legalize marijuana was validation that there are an incredible number of Minnesotans who agree prohibition is a failure that only compounds harm the longer it’s in place. From medical to social justice to economic opportunity, there are many reasons to see value in responsibly legalizing and regulating marijuana and the group present Thursday night reflected the wide variety of causes and experiences that inform interest in legalization.

When we talk about MRMR being a people-powered campaign, that means a few important things. First and foremost, it means that we are run and operated by people – not by corporations or interest groups. Our operations team is 75% women and we don’t take money from any organization in the marijuana industry. Second, it means we understand and value the power of people to influence change. The effort to legalize in Minnesota will go through the state legislature one way or another* which means we need residents throughout the state telling their representatives that they want to see this happen. 

Last week’s event was great, and we’ll need many more like it to truly move the needle on legalization in Minnesota. Anyone else interested in volunteering can:

* Unlike the majority of states that have legalized, MN does not have ballot initiatives where a threshold of individuals can demonstrate an interest in something going on a voter ballot. That means there are two ways we can pass marijuana legalization: 1) Going through the state legislature and becoming a law signed by the governor, or 2) Going through the state legislature and being added to a ballot as a Constitutional Amendment. 

Most recently, Illinois legalized recreational marijuana by going through the legislative process; however, it’s important to remember that Illinois, unlike Minnesota, currently has one party in control of its legislature and Governor’s office.